Re: Cats - indoor outdoor or both in cohousing
From: Elizabeth Magill (
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2020 09:34:05 -0700 (PDT)
At Mosaic Commons we treated the indoor/outdoor cats as a hot button topic
and spent a lot of time coming up with a policy before move-in.
That policy grandmothered-in all the existing cats and then allowed new
outdoor cats if someone asked for an exception to the policy.

It turned out that those who wanted outdoor cats believed the policy meant
that if you wanted an outdoor cat you could ask for an exception and it
would be granted. People who wanted no outdoor cats believed it meant that
if your cat was dying and peeing in the house and you had tried every
possible treatment you could ask for an exception and it might be granted.
That is, we all thought the policy came out on "our side". LOL
(Okay, it wasn't funny at the time.)

A *great* team of people got together about 5 years after move-in and
re-opened the discussion to huge amounts of rancor. They then regathered a
couple of years afterward and met individually with people who felt the
strongest, listened to how our community members were impacted and asked
those people who felt the strongest to hear how people on the "other side"
were impacted.

We now have a policy that grandmother's outdoor cats at move-in, limits the
total of outdoor cats to 8, and allows an exception for dying-peeing cats.
We also require bells on outdoor cats, and folk with allergies have
explicit permission to kick cats away.
ALSO, all outdoor pet owners are responsible for all outdoor pet messes--an
email requesting clean-up of poop, dead animals, etc., results in outdoor
pet owners dealing with the problem.

I notice in our case that all the arguments about whether cat's freedom to
live a full life is more or less important than a bird's (or lizard or
bunny) freedom to live a full life, and whether cat's living longer but
caged is more valuable than living shorter but free had *absolutely no
impact* on our decision. Everyone who believed one thing still believe it,
people who believed the others still believe it. Facts are not what drove
our decision.
It was the impact of the cats--inside and out-- *on individuals in our
community* that drove the decision.

Also, our experience is the opposite of Swans Market--and our rural/exurban
location probably explains it--after a few years of really strong feelings,
it was much easier to discuss once we were in place for several years. The
outdoor cats are one of many forms of wildlife that are destroying our
gardens, porch chairs, waking us up at night with screeching.

On the question of whether it affects sales, yes, I think every possible
iteration of a cat policy affects sales--the people who disagree will be
horrified. It doesn't actually matter which iteration you have.

Liz Magill,
who is deathly allergic to cats and doesn't want them on her porch
furniture or in her garden.
Mosaic Commons Cohousing, Berlin, MA

On Wed, Apr 29, 2020 at 8:22 AM Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]> wrote:

> Hi Karen — I appreciate your and everyone’s contribution to helping save
> birds. And, more importantly, to find a way through this knotty problem of
> indoor vs. outdoor cats. This is an issue in almost every community I have
> ever visited.
> I believe these devices may work very well.  But birds aren’t the only
> “wildlife” even in the city.  The collar people used in your community
> worked well for birds but not for baby rabbits.
> I live in the same community as Sharon.  In my past, I’ve owned cats.  So
> I’m not against cats.   In my ignorance, my cats were indoor/outdoor cats.
> I regret that decision to this day.
> When we moved into Takoma Village there were salamander-like creatures,
> bees, birds, etc. all around the flower boxes I maintain outside my house.
> (I’m on the 3rd floor.)    Once the cats moved in on the 3rd floor no more
> of any moving creatures.  Once the cats moved out ... once again there are
> bumble bees, other bees, birds that nest in those very same flower boxes I
> maintain … and … Ahem! … a squirrel that eats my spring bulbs.
> Well...nature has its dark side…
> This year, we have a bunny rabbit that appears on the street level green
> from time to time.  We have one grandfathered cat still on the premises.
> My hope is that she is too old to care about the bunny. Altho,  the bunny
> will probably eat the landscaping.  Like I said … dark side …
> Thank you to everyone who has weighed in on this challenge.
> :-)
> Best --
> Ann Zabaldo
> Takoma Village Cohousing
> Washington, DC
> Member, Board of Directors
> Mid Atlantic Cohousing
> Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
> Falls Church, VA
> 202.546.4654
> The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all
> they know and then stop.
> Mark Twain
> > On Apr 28, 2020, at 10:57 PM, KAREN A CARLSON via Cohousing-L <
> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
> >
> > I moved in with an old cat who tried to push screens out of windows and
> jumped off a second balcony rather than be forced to live entirely indoors
> (We had the policy of no outdoor cats except we grandfathered in the
> original outdoor cats.)  I bought a special collar for my old guy
> (different from the one linked to but the same idea) and as far as I know
> it worked....except for baby rabbits.
> > Karen Carlson
> > Arboretum Cohousing
> > Madison, WI
> >
> > ________________________________
> > From: Cohousing-L < [at] 
> >>
> on behalf of Linda Hobbet <coho [at]>
> > Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2020 7:49 PM
> > To: cohousing-l [at] <cohousing-l [at]>
> > Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Cats - indoor outdoor or both in cohousing
> >
> > At Village Hearth, we are about to move in, our policy is that
> > indoor/outdoor cats belonging to original residents can be grandfathered
> > in, but after that, only indoor cats.
> >
> > There are collars that are quite effective in protecting birds from
> > cats, Belled collars are not very useful
> > because cats learn to walk without ringing the bell. The collars protect
> > birds but not reptiles and small mammals.
> >
> > Linda Hobbet
> >
> > On 4/28/2020 8:11 PM, Muriel Kranowski wrote:
> >> Re the concern that such a policy might make sales more difficult, one
> of
> >> our original founding couples dropped out of the project because we
> didn't
> >> have a no-outdoor-cats policy at that time. The man was a passionate
> birder
> >> and was not willing to live where his neighbors' cats could be outside
> >> killing birds at any time.
> >
> > --
> > coho [at]
> > 706-202-7178 (mobile)
> ><>
> > Durham, NC
> >
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> >
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(The Rev. Dr.) Elizabeth Mae Magill
Pastor, Ashburnham Community Church
Minister to the Affiliates, Ecclesia Ministries

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